The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has said his decision to block a parliamentary investigation on Bank of Uganda (BoU) was informed by concerns that proceedings of the House would offend the subjudice rule.
Mr Oulanyah blocked Parliament’s plan to set up a Select Committee to investigate the operations of BoU, arguing that he had received notification from lawyers and BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile that the case was before before the High Court.
However, he was criticized by a cross section of MPs who accused of conniving with BoU officials to frustrate the investigations on the controversial sale of several commercial banks, including Crane Bank.
But on Tuesday, Mr Oulanyah insisted he was following the instructions from the lawyers.
“The motion was presented and actually debate started. The main thing came from a letter from lawyers that there are five cases filed in court on the same facts as contained in the motion and they raised the issue of sub judice under our rule 72. We could not continue debating the matter because they could prejudice the proceedings in court,” Mr Oulanyah said.
“My ruling was captured by the Speaker but the headlines continue to say the Speaker overruled the Deputy Speaker. That is misleading,” he added.
Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda Louis Kasekende, in an April 19 letter to the Attorney General, said the Auditor General had no authority to audit the Central Bank over its role in the closure of four commercial banks, including Crane Bank Ltd, arguing this contradicts the subjudice rule since the cases related to the collapse of the bank are before the High Court.
However, Mr Abdu Katuntu, the COSASE chairman, had earlier written to the Attorney and BoU, insisting that subjudice does not apply to auditing.
And Ms Kadaga on May 10 wrote to the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, informing him to proceed with the investigations into the Central Bank’s controversial closure of over seven banks, among them the locally-owned Crane Bank.
Ms Kadaga quashed the protests by BOU officials led by deputy governor Dr. Louis Kasekende and backed by legal opinions from an official of the office of the Solicitor General, saying that the Office of the Speaker of Parliament retains the mandate to sanction such clarifications.
“Therefore in response to your request for guidance, you should proceed with the audit as directed and submit your report to my office as it is required by the law,” the Speaker wrote.
The Auditor General on May 18 raided BoU headquarters as it finally started investigations of the operations of the Central Bank after being given a green light by Ms Kadaga.
A team of 15 people from the Auditor General’s office moved to the Central Bank headquarters on Kampala Road with a view to assessing the documents pertaining the closure of the banks over the years. Among closed banks include Teefe, Greenland, International Credit Bank, Cooperative Bank, National Bank of Commerce, Global Trust and most recently, Crane Bank.
Mr Muwanga will also investigate the circumstances under which Crane Bank was transferred to dfcu Bank without consultation of the key stakeholders. In March, this website revealed that Crane Bank Ltd was sold to dfcu Bank by BoU at a paltry Shs200 billion without consulting the shareholders who valued it at Shs1.3 trillion. The January 25, 2017 sale agreement was signed by BoU Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Mr Juma Kisaame, the managing director of DFCU, without considering the interests of major shareholders of Crane Bank Ltd.
The AG’s report is expected to furnish Parliament with information regarding the closure of National Bank of Commerce (NBC).